Millennials and Their Munching Habits

by Ashley Timmerman | Consumer Insights on August 9, 2011

in Ad Camp, L&S, Quick Service Restaurants

Millennials and Their Munching Habits

Trying to capture the attention of Millennials is like trying to swat a fly blind-folded with your hands tied behind your back. “A swing and a miss!” This group, ages 16 through 34, is vital to the restaurant industry, but how in the world are restaurants supposed to catch Millennials’ attention in their crazy, fast-paced, jam-packed day, especially when there are countless ads from other restaurants to break through?

A report completed by advertising agency Barkley, consumer researcher Service Management Group and The Boston Consulting Group digs into Millennials’ lives and how restaurants can cater to their jumbled lifestyles.

One interesting trend the research found was that Millennials tend to snack more throughout the day than non-Millennials (ages 35 to 74). Thirteen percent of Millennials eat at restaurants during off-peak hours, compared to six percent of non-Millennials. Their busy schedule often disrupts the normal timing of meals, also playing a part in the odd eating hours. To cater to this trend, quick service restaurants could offer specials or promotions during mid-mornings or afternoons. A “snack break” marketing idea could draw in those who just need a pick-me-up to get through the next stretch of their day, and offering a deal or promotion would add a sweet incentive. Also, restaurants could offer smaller portion sizes to encourage a “snack,” instead of a meal.

The study also found that Millennials eat out more often than non-Millennials and spend an average of $173.95 a month on eating out. While most of that money is spent at quick service restaurants, Millennials were more likely to eat at fast casual restaurants.

Convenience, healthful meal selections, exotic food choices and the experience draw Millennials to specific brands. But, as assumed, there is also definitely a “me” factor involved. While non-Millennials tend to dine out more often with family, Millennials see eating out as an opportunity to treat themselves. Special occasions (33 percent) and the desire to socialize with friends and co-workers (22 percent) are among the top reasons Millennials eat out. And according to Jeff Fromm, senior vice president of sales, marketing and innovation at Barkley, Millennials think, “Do I feel special or unique?  Would I want my friends to see me at this place?”

All restaurant types can capitalize on elevating customer experience. Making the Millennial feel like the center of the restaurant’s world and giving them an adventure is sure to keep them coming back for more.


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